Monday, October 6, 2014

the Grammar School schism

I wrote to Fred Richardson, the man I visited in Halifax who was another of the founders of the Grammar School and who recalls my father with enormous admiration. And he just sent back a note mentioning a controversy that took place a few years after the school was started, when a 'dissident' faction in the school wanted to allow their sons to be caned by the Scottish headmaster. My father and other parents refused to permit it; there was a vitriolic split, and many pulled their boys out and started another school, the Dartmouth Academy, which condoned caning - and eventually fell apart.

Fred told me it wasn't only the issue of punishment but the fact that my father was left-wing and an atheist and a Jew that made him such a target of personal attack. Almost all the Presbyterian and Catholic families took their boys to Dartmouth. Fred writes:

My short but intense association with Gordin was a highlight personal life experience. My appreciation of your father was enhanced by his passionate determination to see the school survive the schism. Over a period of months he was the principal target of dissident wrath and falsehoods. He was mercilessly under fire at public meetings and in numerous dissident letters. Having founded the school and being a sensitive man this would have been personally painful. He never wavered in the schism donnybrook. Despite his reputation as a maverick, when the chips were down, he proved a steady team player under shared leadership. His school was at stake. 

He did not live to see it, but the school has become the dream he shared with us that founding night at Dalhousie, and his daughter has returned to see his achievement.

No comments:

Post a Comment